Theatre Review: The Conspirators

Written in 1971 whilst in prison, Vaclav Havel regarded this as the weakest of his plays. After seeing it again in 2007 he decided he actually liked the play because of the way it was performed.

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Presented by Red Phoenix Theatre
Reviewed 4 Nov 2017

Written in 1971 whilst in prison, Vaclav Havel regarded this as the weakest of his plays. After seeing it again in 2007 he decided he actually liked the play because of the way it was performed. This has a lot to do with how the play is perceived, and although the thought behind it is good the script has many weaknesses. It occurred to me whilst watching this that the script comedy was weak and the laughs depended on the physical comedy.

Director, Michael Eustice, has a strong cast and there are some fine individual performances, and yes it did make me laugh, but mostly at the physical and visual comedy, not the lines.

Adrian Barnes is wonderfully pompous, and vague, as Major Ofir without an original thought in his head. As Dylk, the State Prosecutor, Tony Busch is earnest and believable using his wonderful array of expressions to convey what he is feeling. Dylk and Ofir are both manipulated by Helga, played beautifully by Emily Branford, who is in turn out manoeuvred by all the males in one way or another.

Nick Fagan is Aram, Head of Censorship, and stays quietly controlled whilst contributing to the visual comedy by nervously eating. Russell Slater does well as Stein, in custody and being tortured, but I found Brant Eustice less convincing as Colonel Moher, the Police Chief. As the Prime Minister Steve Marvanek realistically conveyed a feeling of being unsure and not in control of the action. Martha Lott, Anna Bampton, Hugo Fielke, Kyla Booth and Ruby Faith all gave good performances and the production demonstrated the slogans and contradictions which are mirrored in our own society.

Even with the good performances this complex play missed the mark for me, it told me nothing new and although amusing it wasn’t enough.

Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Twitter: @franeds

Venue: Holden Street Theatres, The Studio
Season: 2-11 Nov 2017
Duration: 2 hr 20 min including interval
Tickets: $24.50 Full / $17.50 Concession / $19.50 Group concessions (6+)
Bookings: Visit redphoenixtheatre.com and holdenstreettheatres.com or call 8225 8888.
Tickets at the door subject to availability

 

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